Medical negligence and Florida state law, 101

State law governs medical negligence cases. This can impact time limits and the evidence needed to move forward with a case.

The National Practitioner Database reports that there were 2,321 adverse actions in 2015 in Florida. These events include any action by a medical professional that was so egregious it resulted in a restriction, revocation or denial of clinical privileges. These actions are more than just a business mistake. These actions can result in serious injury to patients.

Injured while receiving medical care? What can a victim do?

Those who are injured while receiving medical care have options. One option is to move forward with a claim against the offending party for medical negligence. In order to establish this claim, certain criteria must be met. Simply having an injury after a procedure is not enough. Florida state law provides that the victim of medical negligence must establish that the physician responsible for the injury failed to provide a level of care that meets the prevailing standard of care for that health care provider. The prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider is defined as the "level of care, skill and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers."

It is important to note that there are exceptions to this rule. The presence of foreign objects is generally enough to establish medical negligence without additional evidence that there was a breech in the accepted standard of care. Examples could include the presence of a surgical sponge, needle or other medical instruments within the patient after a surgical procedure is complete.

Victims often benefit from the testimony of experts within the same field as the physician who caused harm when building their case. These experts must have an active license and be recognized as a specialist in the same field as the physician that caused the injury. Additional requirements are present and can vary depending on the specialty at issue. Obstetricians, for example, generally require a larger amount of previous experience in order to be considered an expert in the field.

Is there a time limit?

Victims should be aware of the fact that there is a time limit to these claims. State law requires that medical malpractice cases move forward within two years from the incident that resulted in the injury or within two years that a patient should have discovered the injury. There are some exceptions to this rule as well. Cases involving allegations of fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation, for example, may have an extension on the statute of limitations. In these instances, the statute is extended to seven years.

The laws that govern medical negligence cases in Florida are complex and evolving. As such, it is wise for victims who are attempting to navigate this system to seek legal counsel. Your attorney can review the details of your case and provide guidance through the process, working to better ensure you receive the legal remedies you are entitled.

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